Future Imperfect: SuGa Reviewed

Dumplings and Scallion Pancakes at SuGa | Photo by Emily Teel

Dumplings and Scallion Pancakes at SuGa | Photo by Emily Teel

I love the smell of SuGa. The dim warmth of it. The banquette tables that run along the wall opposite the bar, in the front of the narrow, shotgun space in the middle of Center City. I love the weird, blobby lights that hang down, casting spotlights onto those tables. There’s a drama there that I can appreciate. A sense of controlling the environment.

There’s a sheen to everything at SuGa of newness and polish and efficiency. It’s a new restaurant (not even quite three months old yet) that operates like there are 20-year grooves cut into the floor. Everything is on rails, running with a precision that would make German train engineers jealous. This place represents the culmination of decades of experience—of Susanna Foo’s return to Center City (where she got famous, where she made her name) after closing her namesake Walnut Street restaurant in 2009 and its Radnor offshoot last summer. A veteran returning to the trenches, Foo is backed up by her son Gabriel on the floor (he grew up in the restaurant industry, went to medical school, but then found his way back to restaurants again) and sous chefs Clara Park (who opened SuGa with Foo, then left) and Chris Dougherty (who stepped up when Park left) in the kitchen. There are no amateur mistakes at SuGa. Nothing happens without a reason.

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SuGa Launches Brunch

Brunch is now being served at Suga

Brunch is now being served at Suga

Susanna Foo’s Center City restaurant SuGa launches brunch this weekend. Brunch is served at the Sansom Street restaurant from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Highlights include Maryland Crab Egg Fu Yung; Creme Brûlée French Toast and Shrimp Rice Congee.

Brunch drinks include a kimchi Bloody Mary and the Lotus blossom, a balanced drink featuring vodka, Cointreau and passion fruit.

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Positively 10th Street: Ting Wong Reviewed

Ting Wong | Philadelphia magazine

Ting Wong | Philadelphia magazine

I go to Ting Wong for lunch—hiding out at a sticky table along the wall, hot tea and perfect shrimp congee in front of me. I’ve got a book (something with spaceships and ray guns) in one hand, spoon in the other, and I’m smiling because I’m supposed to be eating at some hotel restaurant a few blocks away, but I got there and hated it (hated the vibe and the look of it and the feel it gave me walking through the door), so I about-faced and retreated here, which, yes, was probably the wrong thing to do (considering my job), but it feels good, like skipping school, so I’m happy.

I go to Ting Wong for an early dinner and everything on the block smells like hot, wet garbage, but my dinner is excellent. On another day, I drop by for a quick plate of roast pork over white rice—the meat pink, honey-sweet but also complex with ginger and garlic and five-spice—just because I’m cutting through Chinatown on my way to somewhere else. The pork needs nothing. It is delicious as it is, fanned over rice, shiny under the harsh lights that seem designed to allow no shadows. But if you’re smart, you’ll ask for a little bowl of chopped ginger and scallion—bright green like pickle relish but so much better.

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Susanna Foo’s SUGA Draws Closer

A look at the construction at SUGA on December 1st.

A look at the construction at SUGA on December 1st.

Philadelphians have been eagerly awaiting the return of Susanna Foo to Center City Philadelphia. The chef who owned the highly acclaimed Susanna Foo on Walnut Street for 22 years, closed her eponymous restaurant in 2009. In July of 2014 she announced her return to Center City and now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Though the accompanying photo shows there’s still a ways to go before Susanna Foo opens SUGA at 1720 Sansom Street, there is news to report. The restaurant has a Facebook page as well as a slick new logo. And on the Facebook page, the restaurant has teased out several of the dishes that will make the final menu.

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We Come to Eat Fire: DanDan Reviewed

Photo courtesy of DanDan

Photo courtesy of DanDan

DanDan on a Friday night is a mess in the best possible way—a riot of people and bags and plates, with servers squeezing through the spaces between while the bartenders do their best to keep up with the crush that keeps backing up to the door.

The place is small, but not small-small. Downstairs, the bar takes up an inordinate amount of room, and everything else is just squeezed in. Two-tops press up against the big windows looking out onto the hustle of 16th Street, and more are tucked under the overhang of the lofted second-floor seating area. The hostess stand half-clogs the only passage between the main floor and the stairs leading up. It would be a terrible place to eat if it weren’t also such a fun place to throw yourself into. There’s a mosh-pit sensibility to it: You can get where you’re going, but not without bouncing off a few bodies first.

I sit in the corner at the bar with a sweating Tsing Tao, slurping cold sesame noodles that have a nutty, sweet kick and working through a plate of cumin pork that leaves my tongue slick with a mix of dusty-hot cumin and peppers. Even the fizz of the beer won’t wash it off.

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Main Line’s Yangming Closed Due to Roaches

yangming-exteriorThe Main Line Times has the details about Bryn Mawr’s Yangming being shut down because of an “active infestation” of roaches. The ordeal began on Friday when a child received not one but two dishes of Thai noodles that contained roaches in them.

The family of the girl demanded to see a manager but were not placated by offers of free lunch and gift certificates. The restaurant then called the police on the customers (never call the police when there is an active infestation of roaches in your kitchen). The police responded, witnessed the roaches and closed the restaurant. Superintendent William Colarulo told the Main Line Times, the bugs were “all over the place.”

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DanDan Gets Liquor License, Begins Happy Hour

dandan-marqee-940On Friday, DanDan at 126 S 16th Street received its liquor license. On Wednesday, August 19th, the Sichuan/Taiwanese spot will be launching its interestingly named happy hour, “The Baby High-Five Happy Hour.”

The happy hour includes $5 beverages and bites. Drinks include a featured beer, house red and white wines by the glass, plus well liquors with a choice of mixer.

Happy Hour is available weekdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Check out the happy hour bites and full drink list »

DanDan Offering Free Noodles Through Friday

Free Dan Dan noodles with the purchase of any meal through Friday.

Free Dan Dan noodles with the purchase of any meal through Friday.

DanDan opened over the weekend at 126 S 16th Street. The restaurant serves Sichuan and Taiwanese cuisine in Center City for lunch and dinner.

For now the restaurant is operating as a BYOB, but soon enough the restaurant will have a full liquor license. The restaurant is run by Kevin and Catherina Huang, former operators and managers of Han Dynasty’s University City location. As such, the dan dan noodles are a must order (even better, they’re free with any purchase through Friday). Even after bringing leftovers back to the office, several staff members put the noodles slightly ahead Han Chiang’s renditions.
Highlights and full menus »

DanDan Coming to Rittenhouse in July

The space, currently in renovation, at 126 S 16th.

The space, currently in renovation, at 126 S 16th.

From the former operators and managers of Han Dynasty University City comes DanDan, a fresh combination of Sichuan and Taiwanese cuisine in Rittenhouse.  Kevin and Catherina Huang plan to open (tentatively) on July 1st at 126 S 16th Street.

In this upscale environment (think full, operating bar), the duo hope to offer healthy, authentic, and quality Chinese food that will be customizable for gluten-free and vegetarian diets (which isn’t exactly authentic, but we’ll let that slide) and will also, like Han Dynasty, be customizable for spiciness.

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